The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse

Eric Carle
Art and Artists
F Marc jacket
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse initially seems to be about a random boy who paints all sorts of multicolored animals. He paints a blue horse, a yellow cow, and a green lion, among other interestingly hued creations. By the time this book ends, we realize this is no random boy at all. He is, in fact, a representation of the German Expressionist artist Franz Marc.
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse is a great way to introduce children to art history at an early age. They may not understand movements, but they will certainly understand the key aspects of Marc’s work, especially his use of multicolored animals in his paintings.


One Duck Stuck

Phyllis Root
Ill. by Jane Chapman
Problem Solving

I really felt for this duck. He was simply going about his business in his swamp home. Suddenly he found himself stuck in the muck. His friends do everything they can to try and help him out, but it is no use. Just when the poor duck’s situation seemed beyond hopeless, a miracle rescue occurs. The day is saved, and so is the duck. One Duck Stuck shows the importance of helping others, even if you have to utilize teamwork to get the job done. The story is told with lyrical, sometimes silly rhymes that are repeated throughout the pages. Like other similar rhyming books, children will enjoy reading One Duck Stuck, be it with an adult or (later on) on their own.
Quack quack!

Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same!

Grace Lin
50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know – ages 5-7

Ling and Ting are twins. Like most twins, many people the girls meet simply assume they are identical in personality as well as looks. Because of this assumption, Ling and Ting do everything they can to prove that no, they are truly are Not Exactly the Same! This book contains six stories that show just how different the pair is, despite their nearly identical looks.
Ling and Ting are simply adorable. More importantly, their story may be relateable for children with siblings, regardless of whether they are twins or not. It shows these children that even though you may look the same (or similar!) to your sibling, you can still be an amazing and unique individual.

This Is the Baby

Candace Fleming
ill. by Maggie Smith
“House that Jack Built” variant

This is the baby who hates to be dressed, the first line of the title assures us. She protests every effort her mother makes to get her dressed for a fun day out in the snow. She doesn’t like diapers, pants, shirts, socks, sweaters, or coats. Mittens, hats, and gloves are out of the question. This Is the Baby is a cute book, for sure. It also may be considered controversial, since it ends with the baby finally succeeding in getting UNdressed after so much protesting. Controversial or not, this would be a fun title to read along with younger children. The repetitive lines would keep the kids entertained and allow them to follow the story easily.

Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm

Jon Katz
2013 Monarch Award Nominee

I love all animals, especially dogs. That’s why I chose Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm as my Monarch Award Nominee title.  Bedlam Farm is the author’s home. The book discusses four of the author’s dogs: Lenore, Izzy, Frieda, and Rose. The dogs have different “jobs” on the farm, and have different backgrounds. However, it is Lenore whose work may be the most significant. She acts as a loving pillar of support for the other dogs, regardless of how different they may be. Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm made me squeal. I would imagine children would have similar reactions to this title. The dogs are every bit as beautiful as the story Katz tells.
Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm is not just a book about dogs. It can teach an important lesson. Like the Katz family dogs, we all come from a variety of different backgrounds and all have different jobs in life. This book reinforces the idea that different jobs and different backgrounds are part of what makes life amazing.

Calabash Cat and His Amazing Journey

James Rumford
2004 Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book

In this title, the Calabash Cat goes on a journey to discover the ends of the earth. He encounters a series of animals who help him on his way, each taking him to what they believe to be the end of the world. By the end of his journey, the Cat comes to realize that the world is not as small as he had previously believed. I enjoyed Calabash Cat and His Amazing Journey. Rumford’s artwork is as beautiful as the story that accompanies it. Further, I was fascinated to learn that the title character was based on a gourd that the author found while he was travelling. This title is great for helping children see new perspectives, as well as perhaps inspiring them to broaden their horizons and go on adventures of their own…when they’re older of course!


Denise Fleming
2004 Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended Title

Quite a few books I encountered in my adventures in Children’s Literature involved animals. Buster, by Denise Fleming, involves a dog named Buster.  He lives the good life, and loves every minute of it. Then one day his owners bring a cat named Betty. Chaos ensues. Betty wants nothing more than to be friends with Buster, but Buster wants nothing more than to have his old (cat-free) life back. In an attempt to solve his problems and escape, Buster runs away. He gets lost, but thanks to Betty, he is able to find his way home.
Buster also joins the list of books about the formation of friendships, regardless of how unlikely they seem at first. In the end, Buster and Betty form a bond. Perhaps Buster will encourage children to initiate friendships with classmates they never would have attempted to do so with before. I can only hope!